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Is school relationship ruined? Do I love DS?

(19 Posts)
Gzm555zb Tue 12-Feb-19 10:26:52

About 3 or 4 months ago my son 7 yrs started having problems at school. He says he is being hurt on and off by another boy, who used to be/sometimes still is his friend. He has developed some elaborate compulsions in that time.

I am aware that other children are also having trouble with this boy so I think it's likely more than the rough and tumble of the playground. I have written to HT three times to document my concerns. I was initially told the boy was a bad influence and a liar and they would separate them at playtime, but they share friends and it's a tiny playground - they end up playing together anyway and all is forgotten until the next incident. The teachers do not enforce the separation as they know it can't work.

HT and teacher say maybe DS would be happier doing a club and sitting inside during breaks. I'm against this as my DS is very sociable and active. He needs his breaks.

A couple of weeks ago just before the weekend DS said he overheard a TA saying "he lies" and was upset. I was certain he had not misunderstood so wrote to HT asking if this was what the general staff thinking was, along with concerns that the boy has now been getting a younger boy to hit my son.

On Mon morning we were told DS was having a SENCO assessment. Then we were called in after school (although HT was furious and said SENCO should not have arranged meeting) to learn they had set up a lunchtime observation. Teacher had told my son and boy they could not play with eachother again. A TA then watched my son "like a hawk" from across the playground and said he approached the boy, but later told the TA the boy tried to play with him. My son said he went to chat with his friends but the boy was in the group and played with him after a few minutes.

These are little boys and am I right in thinking the whole situation is ridiculous? The staff had said it proves he is a liar and was lying about the TA. They came up with other examples, like he lied about playing chess. I suggested a set up seemed odd for a SENCO observation and was surely bound to fail given the boys' age and history - was this confirmation bias. Is it normal to construct a situation in a behavioural assessment?

The HT then became very angry, was close to crying, said it was necessary and that if I didn't like it there would be no SENCO provisions, we could allow him to fail, and that if I really thought a TA would use the word liar to describe a student I should find another school, because in fact all it was was attention seeking. We had been friendly, close to friends, until this point so I didn't say much more and thought it best to leave it. I believe I was polite and calm throughout the conversation, although I realise what I said would have been uncomfortable.

What confuses me even more is my son is doing well at school, but suffers a little with handwriting. I have confided in a couple of school mums, they think I should go to the governor's, but I think it might be best to let it be? DH doesn't want more drama and wants to move DS to new school.

Sorry this is so long!

Gzm555zb Tue 12-Feb-19 10:28:01

Typo sorry header should say do I move DS?

RiverTam Tue 12-Feb-19 10:29:05

I'm with your DH - if there's another school he could get into that is good, I'd go for that.

Hoppinggreen Tue 12-Feb-19 10:31:19

The title of your post made me think you were a tad over dramatic and your post kind of confirmed it
You and The Head were never friends, no idea why you wouid think that and the rest of your post is a bit confusing and I don’t know why yiu would go to The Governors about your sons handwriting
If you don’t think you can work with the School and your son would be better off at a different one (assuming you can find one with space) then move him but nothing in your post suggests it’s necessary

Hoppinggreen Tue 12-Feb-19 10:32:53

I see, it’s a Typo
Apologies- title wasn’t overly dramatic then !!

Tinty Tue 12-Feb-19 10:34:00

Goodness yes move him to another school, two birds one stone, you get away from Crazy TAs and Head and also he is away from the other little boy.

picklemepopcorn Tue 12-Feb-19 10:38:35

It's never helpful to create antagonistic dynamics in this.

You, the teachers and the children all want happy kids. It's about working together to manage the situation. Your job is to reassure DS that the TA wouldn't have called him a liar, but that sometimes people do say things they don't mean and sometimes we do misunderstand what others say. The key is to be resilient and move on.

They observed your son because you are the one raising an issue- they want to see how the interactions are occurring. Saying that your son approached the boy is not calling him a liar, it's recognising the dynamics look different from outside the situation.

You mention compulsive behaviours- if your son has needs around anxiety that is what needs addressing. He needs reassurance, resilience activities, coping strategies. Raising tension around incidents will only increase the problem.

That doesn't mean that the school shouldn't be managing playground behaviour better. If that is an ongoing issue then several parents need to get together to ask the staff what the strategies are for various situations. Then you can remind your DC's of what to do when those situations arise. 'Did you go to the buddy bench?' 'Did you tell the teacher?' Etc.

Rafabella8 Tue 12-Feb-19 10:42:54

Look into another school. We moved our DS when he was 6 - from a school that sounds just like yours - a rammy. He Never looked back. Now in 5th year senior school. I have never regretted our decision.

steppemum Tue 12-Feb-19 10:43:33

normally I would always say work wit the school, as new school wil just have a different set if issues.

But this is so bizarre, I can't see a happy ending coming, and I would move ds, get him away from the boy and from the weird set up.

Bluntness100 Tue 12-Feb-19 10:47:41

Yeah, I'm not sure here op, the head was close to crying, was close to being your friend , someone called him a liar, the other boy a liar, it seems unlikely.

If I try to see through the fog of drama here, it seems your son has some problems and the school is trying to help him, and I would let them.

Gzm555zb Tue 12-Feb-19 11:24:44

To be clear when I say close to crying, her eyes were wet. Perhaps it was anger? As per close to being a friend I mean super friendly and cheerful, and she's like this with most of the mums, not just me. She spends 30 mins each day catching up with the mums. She hugged me when something bad happened to my other son. I have never once felt an incumberence to her.
She asolutely called the boy a liar, because when my DS says he hurts him, the boy says he hasn't done it and they say they can tell he is lying. I have not made this up. She has called two other boys liars, one "always lies" to please others, the other one had "issues with lying" at another school. I have helped at school which is why sometimes I am told this stuff. To say they never use the word liar in their school is a lie in itself lol.

goldengummybear Tue 12-Feb-19 11:24:44

This is the problem with small schools. Avoiding someone is impossible and everybody knows everybody's business.

I'd move him immediately considering that you've thrown a grenade at the staff. Can't believe that the HT was close to tears.

My kids have had to avoid people during their time in primary and they did exactly that. If his normal friends are playing with the "troublemaker" then it's up to him to play with new friends. School can keep them separate in the classroom but your son needs to take some responsibility and avoid him too.

With regards to the "liar" but. Schools says the boy is a "liar" but your son was also called a "liar" Are you sure that they didn't say something more gentle like "mistaken" "confused" "misinterpreted" "exaggerated" etc?

goldengummybear Tue 12-Feb-19 11:26:13

X-post you explained the liar comment. Strange.

Why wouldn't you move school?

Gzm555zb Tue 12-Feb-19 11:35:47

@goldengummybear I'm not too worried about my son thinking the TA called him a liar. I know kids can get confused, and even if she did I am sure it was a slip of the tongue. My concern was he thought nobody believed him with regards what was going on in the playground. His compulsions were worse that weekend (they are small but are patterns he is doing every few minutes). It's the way they reacted that I feel was so out of proportion.

DS started at this school 18 months ago when we relocated and has made so many great friends. I know he will be sad he would have to leave them behind. I really thought what was going on in the playground could be sorted out.

I have arranged for him to see another school so ultimately we will move him.

ForgivenessIsDivine Tue 12-Feb-19 12:08:09

Issue number 1: There is a concern that the boys cannot be kept apart in the playground because even if they are told not to, they both, but definitely your son, end up playing together because the playground is so small.. ... is there any way that the playground supervisors, the teachers and TA's can come up with a way that will work so that this boy can stop hurting your son at playtime?

Issue number 2: Your son exhibits some sort of repetitive behaviour you refer to as compulsions and from what I understand, these are worse when he is stressed, which he appears to have become, due to not being believed. Does this behaviour exhibit itself at other times? Is this a concern in it's own right? Are the school aware and are they involved in assessing this?

Issue number 3: SENCO involvement: The head teacher said if you didn't like it, there would be no SENCO provisions and you could allow him to fail.. Does your child have SENCO support? Are these relevant?

I think that there is a possibility that you could allow the dust to settle and to attempt to understand what has been going on and to move forward in partnership with the school. Overall, do you think he is doing well at school, is he happy outside of the issue with this boy, do you think that is overshadowing his experience at school, do you think you and he can find a way round it all?

But... if you think he would be better off somewhere else, you have to consider that too.

FWIW, I have just come from a meeting with school and they were very attentive and lovely, I have a child who struggles with school and while her school is not perfect for her, I do not believe would be better off at the other options available locally.

Gzm555zb Tue 12-Feb-19 12:27:16

1. I don't know what their plan is. They said something about a group friendship activity, two months ago but it never happened. I really believe that managed properly it could all stop.

2. They are aware of the compulsions. I don't think they are assessing it. How do they do that? It happens all the time. It got better when he was off sick, but it's back again with a vengeance. Hes made his eyes so sore from sticking his fingers in them. I'm going to arrange visit to GP. I don't see other reasons for this. He misses his old school for sure, and most of the time he's a very optimistic, cheerful little boy, I never had concerns re anxiety before.

3. My child does not have SENCO support. He's got a fab memory, he keeps me organised, he's good at maths, spelling, great reader.... HT said he's bright but not fulfilling potential. He has a stiff wrist I am told so has difficulty with handwriting and he's a bit behind physically. I don't understand how the observation tied into all of this.

HexagonalBattenburg Wed 13-Feb-19 10:11:49

We have kids that aren't allowed to play with other children on the yard - they're monitored to make sure this isn't happening - not watched "like a hawk" but all the staff are aware of which combinations of children need to be kept separate and briefed to redirect them if they're heading toward each other. I have no issues with that - one of my daughters has been on playtime monitoring for quite a while because of social issues - always done very gently and positively and I'm grateful school did so to get a real picture of what was happening in terms of the dynamics of the playground.

Our head is super chatty and outgoing to the parents - and I'm on first name terms with her rather than the lot she still calls Mrs X and the like - but she's not my friend and it's definitely a professional relationship we have - it might veer a little bit into chit chat about what was on the telly last night at times but I never assume it's anything more than it is. Hell I've crossed swords with her several times in meetings on a professional basis (I'm a governor at the school and I'll argue my corner for what I believe best when required!) so both of us are more than prepared to tell it like it is on tough issues - but we can still remain friendly and civil afterwards - that's part of being professional so I'm sure the Head can move on from things if you can as well.

Sounds like the SENCO is looking for something like dyspraxia or dysgraphia... perfectly possible to have all of those things you list - great memory, good at spelling, great reading and maths - but struggle with things like handwriting and physical things. That's my daughter's developmental profile almost exactly and yes, she does have SEN issues in terms of motor planning and spatial awareness which affect her handwriting and ability to record what's going on in that clever little mind. SENCO involvement there is positive because it means they can look at things like alternative methods of recording work and the gap between what she can produce when the handwriting burden is removed and she can type work and what she produces normally is massive - it means she can show her true academic ability. I wouldn't be challenging or fretting over that particular issue!

As for the liar thing. One of mine lies - and it would depend to me how it was said. The teacher of the child who has somewhat of a politician's approach to telling the truth is very good at questioning her very very kindly and gently to get her to tell the true version of events - and both the teacher and me know that often there's reading between the lines to be required to work out exactly what has gone on - but we're singing from the same hymnsheet on that one - and the message is gently getting through that it's blooming pointless for her to do it, I find out the real version of events anyway, and she's a splendidly crap liar at the best of times! I'd be annoyed if they were labelling her a liar, but a "now think carefully how things happened" reminder - I have absolutely no issues with whatsoever.

We also get the slightly compulsive behaviour from my child who has dyspraxia incidentally - she skin picks. We've worked with the SENCO and now she has a fiddle tangle in school and staff redirect her to use that rather than pick at any minor blemishes on her skin... again - the SENCO input has been positive.

I did move my children very early on in their school career when the relationship and confidence between me and the school had completely broken down - but I don't think personally you're at that point here and in our case it was most definitely the right decision to make as the original school was a very poor fit and DD1 had never settled socially and made friends there.

Friedspamfritters Wed 13-Feb-19 14:52:02

There seem to be a couple of separate issues - if your son has compulsions triggered by anxiety or stress I would be concerned about this in it's own right and would want to address it (not necessarily in school).

It's not clear how serious the trouble your son is having with this boy is. He certainly seems on the rougher end of things but it's not clear whether it's really all that is bothering DS.

DS does sound very anxious and I would be open to the idea that this issue is a symptom of the anxiety rather than the sole cause of it. If the SENCO wants to do an assessment of him I'd encourage it. Having SEN does not mean a child can't be outgoing and academic.

spinabifidamom Sun 17-Feb-19 15:20:44

Can you find another school or not? My mom removed me from school when I was five years old after a lot of phone calls and threats. She homeschooled me. As a last ditch option you can always try homeschooling DD.

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